Thomas Pinkney Barnwell, III

Thomas Pinkney Barnwell, III
Associated organizations
Georgia Institute of Technology
Fields of study
Signal processing
IEEE Jack S. Kilby Signal Processing Medal


Thomas Pinkney Barnwell, III is considered one of the historically most important contributors to the field of signal processing over the last 50 years for the breadth of his digital signal processing innovations that have advanced the very foundations of the field. Credited with some of the most definitive work in speech processing, Dr. Barnwell developed what is known as the “Barnwell Windowing” technique. This made possible the G.728 international standard for 16 kbit/second speech coding, which is used for Internet telephony. He also introduced the mixed-excitation linear prediction (MELP) speech coding standard, which is considered the most influential speech coder of the past 20 years. It became a standard for government and military secure communications and has been incorporated in commercial products such as digital answering machines and speech synthesis chips. His pioneering work on filter banks and wavelets has been integral to image compression, digital audio, and wireless communication applications. Dr. Barnwell founded the digital signal processing research group (now known as the Center for Signal and Information Processing) at the Georgia Institute of Technology, GA, USA, and helped grow it into a world-class research center. As cofounder of Atlanta Signal Processors, Inc. (ASPI, now a division of Polycom, Inc.), Dr. Barnwell was instrumental in providing important DSP hardware to industry such as the first DSP chip for a PC, the first DSP speech coder on a DSP microprocessor, and other high-speed DSP microprocessors. A champion of e-learning initiatives, Dr. Barnwell’s contributions to technology-enhanced education include one of the first computer-based textbooks for teaching with hands-on engagement.

An IEEE Life Fellow and recipient of two IEEE Signal Processing Society Paper Awards and an IEEE Signal Processing Society Technical Achievement Award, Dr. Barnwell is a Professor Emeritus with the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA. Barnwell was awarded the 2014 IEEE Jack S. Kilby Signal Processing Medal.